How play helps us think

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Play opens your mind, it makes people less inhibited and activates ideas. So play, as a thinking approach, makes really good business sense. It enables us to think through problems in a new way and builds trust within a group.


Observing and participating in play, gives us as Strategists access to insights that might not surface in more conservative circumstances or orthodox business situations.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato

It’s an extremely useful problem solving tool in business because it disarms adults and their practiced way of thinking. It encourages intuition, and stops people over-thinking their responses and ideas — making play, a powerful catalyst for that over-used word ‘innovation.’

WHAT WE’VE LEARNT FROM KIDS

We know that learning and development in children is facilitated through the act of play. It is hugely important in crafting the brain.

As a mother of a 4 year old, I witness first-hand kids taking huge creative risks (that’s my adult filter speaking) and leaping from one idea to the next, effortlessly. It sparks my imagination. But there’s loads of science that support the theory — a pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says “play has a biological place in our lives, just like sleep and dreams do.”

So play shouldn’t be a rehearsal toward adulthood it should be an important part of changing the way we think and learn everyday.

We developed the Playground Sessions for that very reason, to change our ingrained approach to problem solving in business.

 

A GUIDE TO FRUITFUL PLAYTIME WHEN PROBLEM SOLVING:


– PLAYING WITH PURPOSE

Defining a clear goal for the session is crucial. When we use play we’re not playing for the sake of it, we’re aiming to explore and connect around a clear brief, this will give us insights and learnings useful in solving the challenge in front of us, or importantly, reframing the challenge.


– A NEW ENVIRONMENT

Hosting people off-site in a neutral space helps create a clear canvas and enables politics to shift. We bring participants into a bright, creative room where they can think and express themselves freely whilst being led through a range of lateral exercises that we’ve designed to help us think.


– EVERYONE IS EQUAL

Hierarchy doesn’t exist in a kids playground, everyone is equal and every idea counts. We’ve modelled this in our Playground Sessions— there’s no such thing as a bad idea. When we were kids we weren’t afraid to share our whacky thoughts and creations, unfortunately as adults we’ve learned to care what others think, especially those senior to us. So, creating an even playing field for ideas to prosper is important.

Next time you've been tasked with a problem at work to solve, try to use a bit of play to tackle the challenge, if it doesn’t help you solve the problem, at least it will brighten your day. But, I bet you’ll surprise yourself.

By Klara Teahan — Co Founder / Divide by Zero

 
Dana Teahan